A DuPage County jury is expected to begin deliberating this afternoon in the case of a twice-convicted murderer on trial for a third slaying in which a young Aurora father was killed after being robbed of $6.
Lawyers’ closing arguments begin at 1:30 p.m., followed by jury deliberations.
Edward Tenney is accused of opening fire on Jerry Weber on April 16, 1992, before robbing him of a black leather wallet containing $6 during a chance encounter in a muddy field near Sheffer and Vaughn roads, near what is now the sprawling Stonebridge subdivision.
Tenney, 50, maintains his innocence. But his cousin, Donald Lippert, 34, testified last week that he watched Tenney commit the murder after the two spotted Weber trying to free his mired white work van from a muddy Aurora Township field. Lippert, also armed, said he gave Tenney his weapon after the other one jammed.
Tenney is serving life prison sentences for the 1993 shootings of two Kane County women, killed in separate home invasions, including that of dairy heiress Jill Oberweis.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Tenney if he is convicted of murdering Weber, 24, a carpet installer whose wife, Sharon, discovered his bullet-ridden body the next morning when he failed to return home from gathering flagstones for a backyard garden project.
Sharon Weber gave birth to their second child just three weeks earlier. She has not remarried and raised their two sons, David and Erik, while putting herself through school to become a registered nurse.
Lippert received an 80-year prison term for his role in the three slayings. He is eligible for parole in 2035 after serving half the sentence.
Weber’s murder remained unsolved for three years. Police were led to Tenney in October 1993 when they arrested him on an unrelated burglary warrant at his girlfriend’s apartment, about a mile from the murder scene, and recovered one of the two guns they later linked to the crime through ballistics testing.
It wasn’t until May 1995, though, that police recovered the other gun and Weber’s wallet from other members of Lippert’s family, who lived with Tenney back in 1992 and said they still were storing some of his belongings. One of them also said Tenney confessed to him after the slaying, but he was too afraid to tell police after Tenney threatened his life.
His defense team, John Houlihan and Mark Kowalczyk, argues Donald Lippert changed his story repeatedly and is far from a reliable witness.
If members convict Tenney, they will be asked in the trial’s next two phases to determine if Tenney is eligible for a death sentence, and then whether capital punishment is the appropriate sentence.
Tenney once faced death by lethal injection for one of the other murders. His conviction, though, was overturned in 2002 based on a legal trial error. He was retried, convicted again and, in 2008, sentenced to a life prison term, clearing the way for his latest trial to begin in DuPage County.
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